Geeked on Golf

A Celebration of the People & Places that Make Golf the Greatest Game


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 18 (Annual Volunteer Recap)

‘Tis the season for giving thanks.  My geeky heart is filled with gratitude for all of our volunteers who come out and give their time and labor to polish up this community golf gem of ours.

Our primary focus in 2017 was on the south end of the property – the Metra Loop.  We continue to bootstrap pilot projects to attempt to give our players and the community a sense of the potential for Canal Shores.  We realize that we are only scratching the surface relative to a full-scale renovation, but the progress and camaraderie that come from the work is tremendously rewarding.

More than worth the effort.

2017 PROJECTS AND VOLUNTEERS

Reclaiming the Ridgeline on the 15th

We kicked off the season wanting to complement the new bunkering and grass lines on #15 with a clearing and cleanup of the invasives along the ridgeline above the canal.  The Colfax Street neighbors came out in force and helped us knock out the entire project in one day.  They have been among our most active and supportive neighbors and we couldn’t appreciate them more.

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16th Hole South Bank

For the second straight year, a group of students from North Shore Country Day School made Canal Shores the subject of their senior service project.  Henry, Pierce, Will and Briggs carried on the tradition of making a difference by working with Steve Neumann on community outreach as well as diving in to clear the south side of the canal bank on #16.  They worked very hard and made a big difference.

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North Bank on the 16th

When my sons Jack and Henry learned about the work of the NSCDS dudes, they wanted in on the action.  Jack grabbed his friends Matt, Luke, and Charlie, and with an assist from Matt and Luke’s dad George, we cleared the north bank.  The goodness of these kids never ceases to amaze me.  When the work was finished, for the first time in years, the water and the entire 16th green were visible from the 16th tee.  A greatly enhanced experience for our players.

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The Stone Wall on the 16th

Our neighbor and volunteer John McCarron advocated for a clearing and repair of the old stone wall that borders the base for the train line.  The golf geeks, including members of the GolfClubAtlas community, got together and took care of the clearing, with an assist from Nels Johnson on the larger trees and stumps.   John then reached out to the Union-Pacific railroad, who agreed to repair the wall so that this special feature of Canal Shores remains intact for decades to come.

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16th Hole Finishing Touches

Our friends at the Northwestern University athletic department once again came out en masse for their community service day, and did the detail work on the south bank and along the wall.  They weeded, raked, picked up debris, and spread mulch.  After their hard work, we were able to seed along the wall and grow new turf, giving the approach a beautiful look.

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Behind the Green on the 16th

The golf geeks also cleared away the brush and invasives behind the 16th green, opening up a view to and from Noyes Street.  With help from the Evanston Forestry Department, trees were cleared and thinned bordering the sidewalk allowing for the removal of the old, chain link fence.  A donation from the Honorable Company of Reverse Jans Golfers allowed us to have our friends at Fenceworks install the wood round-rail that is now the signature look of our property border.

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The 16th Tee Path

Members of our Grounds Committee got out with volunteers and re-routed the walking path between the 15th green and 16th tee.  Not only did the end result look much better, it also directed commuters and other walkers to enter the property in a much safer spot than their traditional route of heading straight out in front of the 15th green.

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Clearing and Path Building on the 14th and 17th

The ETHS Boys Golf team brought out a huge crew of players, coaches and parents that took on clearing along the ridgeline on #14, clearing behind the 16th tee, and path building between the 16th hole and 17th tee. They did great work and took further ownership of their home course.

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14th Hole Bunker Rebuild

Another group of golf geeks, including Tony and Graylyn from Links Magazine, Andy from The Fried Egg, Peter from Sugarloaf Social Club, and Coore & Crenshaw shaper Quinn Thompson, joined our volunteers for a rebuild of the greenside bunkers left of the 14th green.  A great morning of work by kindred geeky spirits with a final product that adds flourish to the start of the Metra Loop.  Special thanks also to our Super Tony, Assistant Super John Lee and their crew for assisting with the work, and for keeping the sod alive.

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Reclaiming the Ridgeline on the 14th

We end the season where we began – taking back space above the ridgeline from invasives, this time on the 14th.  Our neighbors, volunteers and the golf geeks continue to assist in this effort, which in certain spots is extending down onto the canal bank.  Chilly temps, short days, and snowy skies have not deterred our army of buckthorn warriors from continued progress.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of the contributions made during 2017.  Our volunteers, donors, staff, Board of Directors, and committee members worked tirelessly on many fronts to move Canal Shores forward.  During this season of thanks, I am grateful to be a part of this special movement.


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Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 15b (Metra Corner Update)

After all of the improvements that we have made to the 15th hole, it is really shining right now.  I took a quick walk this morning to grab final photos of the bunkers in the bright summer sunshine to complete this update on our work on #15.

The larger Metra Corner Makeover project (as outlined in this previous JATS post) continues to move along, and has now expanded to include the 14th, 17th, and 18th holes – the entire Metra Loop – in no small part because of the growing wave of support we have received from our volunteers and neighbors.  More updates to come on other holes as the work progresses.

For now, I’ll focus on my new favorite hole on the course, the 15th.

THE BUNKERS

Rework of the bunkers began in the fall of 2016.  We had an old fairway bunker complex that had grown over that we decided could use a little more character.  A bunker short-left of the green was removed, and the bunker short right of the green repositioned and reshaped.

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Fairway grass bunkers before work began

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Short right bunker before work began

The inspiration for the look of the bunkering came from a photo of Hollywood Golf Club, a Walter Travis design in NJ that has been recently restored by the Renaissance Golf team, as well as a bunker I saw at The Rawls Course in TX, a Tom Doak design.

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Hollywood GC

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The Rawls Course

Our Super Tom Tully cut the sod (thanks to the generosity of Brian Bossert from Bryn Mawr CC), and made us a big ol’ dirt pile from the mounds surrounding one of the grass bunkers.

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I dug out and sodded the right nostril.

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My buddy Peter Korbakes dug out and sodded the left nostril.

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My buddy John Creighton shaped and sodded the nose.

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Approaches were seeded, to grow in in the spring.

Next up were the greenside bunkers.  Pat Goss, David & Lindsay Inglis and players from the NU golf team pitched in with our volunteers the fill in the left bunker and reposition/rework the right bunker.

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The right bunker came to be known as “the gash”, and by the time we finished shaping and sodding, we felt that it was a fitting homage to Mr. Doak’s original.

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We were joined in our gash work by Dave Lockhart, videographer and fellow golf geek. Dave did double duty, helping us to finish the digging, while also capturing footage for a nice piece he did on Canal Shores.

 

FAIRWAY EXPANSION

In the spring, we had several productive and fun volunteer sessions, working our way down the left side of the 15th.  We removed buckthorn and other invasives to help turf thrive and to create space to expand the fairway left.  The neighbor support we received at these sessions was astounding, allowing us to move quite quickly.

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An out-of-place bush and spruce tree were removed, and the fairway was widened right to highlight the interesting shape of a large grass bunker.  Players were also given room to steer clear of the principal’s nose, giving life to our vision for more interesting strategy on a hole that had previously been bland.

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Our new Superintendent Tony Frandria and his crew filled the new bunkers with sand, and began the slow process of tuning up the mowing patterns around the new bunkers, and on the green pad.  In spite of challenging weather, the 15th looks better every day, and is now a joy to play for golfers of all skill levels.

(click to enlarge images)

 

Work is already well underway on the 16th hole.  Stay tuned for more updates as the makeover of our beloved Metra Loop continues…


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Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf

 

 

 


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 16 (Super Changes)

There is only one constant in life – change.  Life at Canal Shores is no different.  The course continues to evolve, as do our plans for its future.  This season, those plans changed when we learned that our team was not going to be the same.  Tom Tully, our Superintendent, decided to relocate to Colorado.  He will be missed.

After a brief moment of panic, the search for Tom’s replacement began.  Our Board President Chris Carey and Grounds Chair Steve Neumann shoulder the work, and scored us a winner – Tony Frandria.  Tony is a highly experienced Greenkeeper, who was most recently at Glen View Club.

I am excited to be collaborating with Tony and wanted to learn more about him.  In the midst of getting prepared for the season, he gracious agreed to a GoG interview.

Before getting to the interview, there is more change news to spread – the Canal Shores Grounds Committee now has its own blog that will have frequent updates on course improvements, volunteer opportunities, master planning and more.  Check it out here.  I will continue to write about golf geeky aspects of the Canal Shores transformation, but for the full story, the G&G Blog is the place to go.

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Our volunteer Jeff Hapner created multiple headers for the blog and this one didn’t make the cut.  It was too good not to share (yes, that is Steve Neumann playing the role of Spackler).

On to Tony’s interview…


THE INTERVIEW

How did you get introduced to golf?

When I was a Senior in High School, the town I grew up in, Palos Hills IL, built a 9-Hole municipal golf course (Palos Hills Municipal Golf Course).  I was looking for a summer job so I went over to the course when it opened to see if they had any openings for summer help.  I started working in the Pro-Shop, which at first was just a small trailer, taking tee times, working in the snack shop, driving the beverage cart, washing golf carts and then eventually working on the grounds.  I got my first set of clubs soon after and began to play golf every day.  The best part about the job was that it was free to play!  That’s when I developed a passion for the game, and that’s when I also took a real interest in working on the golf course grounds.  As time has passed my passion for the game remains, but I currently don’t play as much golf as I did when I was younger.  I plan to change that moving forward, but I still have a tremendous passion, admiration and respect for the game of golf.

When did you know that the game had a hold on you?

The 1991 Ryder Cup matches at Kiawah Island “The War on the Shore”– that was when I really began to love and appreciate the competition and truly understood the deep passion that the game of golf can bring out in people.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned in your career thus far?

There are several lessons I’ve learned in my career, but the most important I would say is communication on so many different levels is imperative.  Being transparent with the people you represent is also important.  People want to know what’s going on – that’s why I really enjoy sharing information to let people know what they can expect when they come out to the golf course.

Another lesson I’ve learned is you can’t be too hard on yourself – I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and sometimes take things too seriously.  That can be a good trait, but you must learn how to manage yours and your employers’ expectations because there are so many factors that you can’t control when caring for a golf course – like weather!

The other lesson I would say is something that a mentor and great friend of mine told me a long time ago.  Don’t fall too much in love with the property because it’s not yours.  One day you will leave the course for whatever reason, but the course will remain and the operation will go on without you. The most important thing is that you do the very best job you can during your tenure so you can leave the course in great shape when you move on and someone else takes the reigns.  Then, hopefully you’ll be able to look back at your achievements and be proud of what you and your team accomplished.

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Where do you see agronomy and course maintenance headed from here?

Water usage is going to become a greater and greater issue as time goes on.  Creating agronomical conditions that can allow turf to thrive with less water use is going to be a huge challenge moving forward.  Pesticide and fertilizer usages are also becoming more and more scrutinized which challenges turfgrass breeders to develop more sustainable turf species that need less water, are more disease resistant, and tolerant to adverse weather conditions.

We as turfgrass professionals, as well as golfers, must manage aesthetic expectations and accept the fact that lush/green turf doesn’t necessarily promote the best playing conditions.  I like the “firm and fast” slogan – which is also better for the environment.

The technology we have at our fingertips is also moving very fast.  Now there are computer programs for just about everything – programs that track your chemical, fertilizer and water usages. Programs that track labor, equipment maintenance, and weather.

Turf equipment is also becoming more and more complex as nearly everything has some sort of computer module that operates the engine, cutting units, etc.  It’s all commonplace now.  Therefore, it’s very important to have a solid Equipment Technician on staff in some capacity to maintain the multifaceted pieces of equipment needed to maintain fine Turfgrass.

It’s vital to keep up with these trends, and in the future, I’m hoping to implement many of the technologies currently available to the Canal Shores operation.

You have worked with Dave Esler and Jim Urbina.  What is it like to collaborate with architects of that caliber?

I’ve been blessed to have worked with these two fine architects.  Both have their own style and personality, and like me, they possess an unbelievable passion for classic “Golden Age” golf course architecture.

The most significant lesson I learned working with these two guys in particular is that I needed to allow them to do their job and to support their vision, but to also offer input on design aspirations that might affect future maintenance.  Golf course architects are basically artists and the golf course is their canvas.  When a golf course engages an architect, they do so for their design expertise, so the architect must be allotted the space to compile multiple renderings and concepts, particularly in the early stages.  It’s important to allow them to be creative without too much scrutiny from outside sources.

Why did you decide to take on the Canal Shores opportunity?

The future vision for the property is what truly intrigued me about the position.  In my career, I’ve planned and managed several high end and multi-faceted golf course projects.  I love planning and executing projects – it’s something within our profession that can add variety to the responsibility of everyday maintenance.  The proposed project at Canal Shores is so unique, and the passion I felt from Chris and Steve during the interview process was really refreshing.

I’ve worked at three private country clubs in my career – this opportunity will also allow me to utilize my experiences in the private sector to build the Grounds Department into an even better functioning facet of the overall facility – much the same as a country club’s Grounds & Greens Department, but on a lesser scale considering the size of the property at Canal Shores is much smaller than what I’ve worked with in my past experiences.

What do you anticipate being the biggest “shock to your system” coming to Canal Shores after 13 years at a prestigious club like Glen View?

First and foremost is obviously the budget.  Canal Shores’s budget is significantly less than what the budget was at GVC.  This isn’t a negative thing, as you must take into consideration the expectations of the golfer, the size of the property and the overall dynamics of the operation on a 12-month basis.

At GVC we had activities occurring all year long. When the golf course closed for the season we had to maintain the grounds surrounding the fall and winter activities available to members such as the paddle tennis facility, skeet and trap shooting, winter ice skating, sledding hill, cross country skiing, and snow removal so it was necessary to keep a sizable staff on year-round.

Canal Shores is clearly a much different operation.  The size of the property is 20% the size of GVC, and the golfer expectations will vary greatly from a private country club.  When the snow flies the operation will mostly be dormant.  I look forward to managing every dollar wisely to exceed expectations in both property maintenance and the overall golf experience of each golfer’s visit.

What are the keys to successfully managing a large golf course construction project or renovation?

Planning and communication.  I’ve seen so many projects within the industry fail due to improper planning and communications.  If the plan isn’t properly vetted in can end up drastically over budget and even if it turns out great, in the end, being over budget is never a good thing.  Every last detail must be properly planned for and budgeted.

It’s also important that the planning is taken on by a sub-committee of the Grounds and Greens Committee.  From my past experiences, I’ve learned that too many irons in the fire can be detrimental to the success of any project, particularly large scale projects with a lot of moving parts.  Typically, four or five committee Members along with the Golf Course Superintendent, Construction Project Manager, and Golf Course Architect are plenty for a successful sub-committee.

It’s also important to always budget for the unexpected – I like to call it “contingency budgeting” as it’s a certainty that some sort of adverse situation will arise at some point during the project that will cost money to rectify.

Communication is extremely vital when taking on a large-scale project.  The clientele should be kept in the loop as much as possible.  Taking pictures and posting them on a blog is a great way to easily allow others to keep up with what’s occurring and how the project is progressing.

What do you love about practicing your craft?

The job can become pretty stressful at times, but when a plan comes together and things look great and the course is playing well, the job is really rewarding.  It’s also a real privilege to be able to work outside and not be confined to an office all day.  I would go crazy if I were locked in an office all day.  I really enjoy driving around the course in the evenings near dusk – there’s something about watching the sun set on the golf course that just relaxes me.

What courses do you most want to see or play next?

I’m extremely fortunate to have developed relationships with so many talented Superintendents around the country.  These relationships allowed me to visit some of the finest courses in America and to become part of a network of Superintendents that’s become a brotherhood.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited some great courses throughout my career – Oakmont, Merion, Pine Valley, Saucon Valley, Augusta National, Riviera, Cypress Point, Oak Hill, Winged Foot, Philadelphia Country Club, Huntington Valley, Muirfield Village, just to name a few off the top of my head.

I’ve never been to Long Island though – so I would love to see Shinnecock Hills, Maidstone, and National Golf Links of America.  My colleague and former GCS at Chicago Golf Club Jon Jennings is the GCS at Shinnecock Hills – they’re hosting a US Open in two years, so hopefully that will be my chance to see Long Island as I plan to volunteer during the tournament.

I would also like to get to Scotland one day.

When you are not working or playing golf, how do you spend your time?

My family is extremely important to me, so when I’m not on the golf course I like to spend time with them.  My family and I are also die-hard Cubs fans so we try to get to as many games as we can throughout the year as well.  Go Cubs Go!!


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Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 15a (Metra Corner Makeover)

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Native plant area behind #6 green

Our generous volunteers and donors helped us complete pilot projects along Sheridan Road at our north end (6th hole) and on Central Ave in our middle (12th hole).  We are grateful for their support and dedication.

Our attention has now shifted to the south end of the property, or what we call the “Metra Corner”.  This is the area that includes the 15th and 16th holes, which interact with the canal and the commuter train tracks.  It is also a point of major foot traffic, with commuters and school kids passing through the course in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

Like most of Canal Shores, the Metra Corner suffers from several major issues:

  1. The golf on these holes is a combination of hard and boring due to a lack of interesting features and inherent strategy.
  2. Turf health and quality, and the general ecology of the area, has been degraded as invasive species like buckthorn have taken over.
  3. Safety issues exist because of the layout of the holes, and disorganization of space for golf vs. non-golf activities.

Our makeover of the Metra Corner has the overarching goal of the addressing the issues above, while improving the aesthetics of the property and fun of the golf holes.  A visualization of the makeover is below, with a descriptions of the steps.  As the makeover progresses, I will provide updates in additional posts.

 

 

THE STEPS OF THE METRA MAKEOVER

STEP 1 – The Principal’s Nose

The 15th hole is a short par-4 that is tight off the tee and plays straight, with little strategic interest.  Although the hole has great potential, it currently suffers from being boring and hard.

We are borrowing a simple strategy of positioning fairway and greenside bunkers to create options and angles for our golfers.  Aggressive players can challenge hazards to gain advantage on the hole and make an eagle or birdie.  Conservative players can navigate safely navigate around hazards while still having a chance at par.

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The staggered bunkering of Hollywood GC.

To add quirk and interest to the hole, we are creating a Principal’s Nose bunker complex, inspired by the original at St. Andrews and others around America.  There is an existing set of grass bunkers in the left center of the fairway that will be shifted and rebuilt.

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The Principal’s Nose at Boston Golf Club

 STEP 2 – Greenside Bunkers

The bunkers front left and right of the green are out of position and in a state of serious disrepair.  The left bunker will be removed and turned into fairway creating an alley for players to play running approaches.  The right bunker will be shifted and rebuilt closer to the green in a rugged, “gash” style.

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The gash bunker at The Rawls Course

The existing layout of the 15th hole provides only one good option for play – straight down the middle.  The new bunker configuration will introduce strategic options and risk-reward considerations for our players. Golf is more fun and interesting when it is a test of both the mind and execution.

(click on images to enlarge)

 

STEP 3 – Replacing the Spruce

There is a large spruce tree on the right side of the fairway on #15 that has was likely planted as a yardage reference marker.  It is a non-native tree in an inappropriate position.  We are exploring options for moving it, and will do so if it is cost-effective.  Otherwise, we have obtained permission from the City of Evanston Forestry Division to remove the tree and replace it with natives that are more appropriately positioned.  If funds allow, the new plantings will be incorporated into the establishment of a new native area.

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Red Oak

STEP 4 – Buckthorn Removal on #15

As is the case in many areas of Canal Shores, buckthorn and other invasive species have encroached on the canal side of the 15th hole, narrowing it considerably.  Previous efforts by our staff and volunteers on the 3rd and 12th holes have widened playing corridors, improved turf quality, highlighted specimen trees, and enhanced aesthetics.

We intend to remove the buckthorn and other invasives along the left side of the 15th fairway up to the canal ridgeline.  Going down to clear and restore the canal bank is a much larger project for which we are not yet prepared.  Our Ecology firm, Planning Resources Inc., has provided us with an advisory statement on the intended work on the 15th and 16th holes (click here to read the PRI letter).

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#12 after buckthorn removal

STEP 5 – Revealing the Stone Wall

With the help of our neighbors, we have discovered an old limestone wall along the right side of the 16th hole.  It is currently overgrown by buckthorn and other invasive shrubs.  This is exactly the kind of unique feature that makes Canal Shores so special, and we intend to uncover and restore it to the best of our ability.

Volunteer days for this work are currently being organized.  Email me, or sign up on the Canal Shores website if you would like to donate or volunteer.

STEP 6 – Round Rail Fence 

The wood round rail fence that we installed as a part of our 12th Green Project has been very well received by the community.  That fence style will be the standard for the boundaries of the property.  It defines a boundary but leaves an open feel, while drastically improving aesthetics.

The chain link fence behind the 16th green will be replaced, increasing visibility into the course for people driving and walking down Noyes Street.  A new section of fence right of the 15th green will be installed, which will help direct foot traffic away from the 15th green and the private neighbor property that borders that corner of the course.

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Round rail fence on the 12th hole

STEP 7 – Reconfigure #16 Tees

The current tee configuration on #16 is suboptimal.  The back tee position is dangerous – it is too close to the back of #15 green.  Shots that go long put players at risk.  The tee shot from the back tee is also too difficult for almost all of our players.  Further, there is no tee box on the near side of the canal.  The forced carry over the canal is mandatory, which is beyond the strength and ability of many of our players.

The back tee will be shut down, making room to reroute the walking path behind 15 green.  The right and left tees will be expanded, to create more day-to-day variety, and a new forward tee on the near side of the canal will be added.

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New teeing options on #16

STEP 8 – Reroute Walking Path

Although Canal Shores is welcoming to walkers of all kinds, we want to keep them safe and minimize potential damage to greens. The path that many school kids and commuters currently take through this section of the property has two main problems that we intend to address.

On the 15th, walkers tend to walk too close to the green, or on it.  The new fence and removal of the back tee on #16 allows us to route walkers away from the green and out of potential harm’s way from golfers.

The area between the 16th hole and 17th tee holds water, and so we will be creating a drainage feature and establishing a formal path for walkers to keep them out of conflict with golfers on #16 and the 17th tee.

STEP 9 – Expand #15 Fairway and Green

As a rule of thumb, more short grass equates to more fun for golfers.  Therefore, we will be working hard to improve turf health, and expanding the fairway and green on #15.  We will give our players a larger target, and more options for how to approach it through the air or along the ground.

CONCLUSION

Although this “bootstrap” work is nowhere near what could be accomplished with a larger scale renovation of Canal Shores, we do believe that we can significantly improve the experience that our visitors have in this section of the property and course.  While the Master Planning process unfolds, we look forward to pushing forward with improvements in every way that the commitment of our volunteers and donors allows.

For step-by-step updates on this project, and all other happenings at Canal Shores, follow us on Twitter (@CanalShores), Instagram (@CanalShores), and Facebook.

Bring on the spring!

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Journey Along the Shores – Part 14b (More Volunteer Power)

What a difference a year makes.  In my previous JATS post, I shared about the efforts of a group of our volunteers – the NSCDS Boys.  They, along with dozens of other volunteers, contributed hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to the successful completion of our makeover of the 12th green complex.

The Canal Shores Grounds Committee’s intention for this pilot project was to holistically apply the principles we have been exploring in the development of our Master Plan – community golf, outdoor recreation, and ecological stewardship working together in harmony.  We hope that in seeing the transformation of this small piece of the property, our players and community can get a sense of what might be accomplished with more robust resources and expertise.

The 12th green complex makeover included several components:

  • Clearing and cleanup of the invasive species overgrowth around the perimeter.
  • Bunker reduction and reconfiguration.
  • Replacement of the dilapidated boundary fence.
  • Preservation of a large “specimen” tree.
  • Installation of a new native plant area.

Following is a recap of the work, which took place over the course of the past year.  We received so much volunteer assistance, that it is impossible to thank everyone enough.  I have included a list of all the people I can remember.  If you pitched in and I left you off the list, please send me a message to jwizay1493@hotmail.com so that I can be sure to properly recognize your invaluable efforts.

(click on images to enlarge)


CLEARING & CLEANUP

As is the case with every area of Canal Shores, years of neglect on the perimeter of the property and along the canal banks has led to invasive species such as buckthorn and riverbank grape vine taking over and choking out more desirable native plants and trees.

We started in the fall, worked through the winter, and finished in the spring with reclaiming the area inside of the canal bank ridgeline.

Cleared material was stacked and topped with mulch to create hugelkultur mounds that can be planted.  Uncovered ground was seeded to provide golfers with more playable width.

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We did not continue down the entirety of the ridgeline on #12.  The picture below shows the line of demarcation.  Notice that in the cleared areas, large trees are now visible.

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The perimeter of the property presented additional challenges beyond invasives – challenges created by people.

We did remove the invasives and dead trees.  That material was combined with debris left behind by landscapers who were using the course as a dumping ground.  We also filled numerous bags with trash left behind by people who confused the course for a garbage can.

We found several paths that had been created by neighbors entering the property in the spot most convenient to them.  This is an ongoing challenge for us.  We want Canal Shores to be open and integrated with its neighborhood.  However, it is dangerous for people to wander onto the course in blind spots where they cannot see players and players cannot see them.  On #12, we built hugelkultur mounds that will be planted to close off some of these paths.  Over time, we will be working to direct our non-golfing visitors to enter and exit the property in places that are designed to minimize danger and conflicts with our players.

In cleaning up the perimeter treeline, we were able to uncover one of the historic lampposts designed by Evanston architect Thomas Eddy Tallmadge.  Making reminders of Canal Shores’s unique setting visible from the course is one of our goals.

CanalShores12-Lamppost_032216.jpg

On this side of the green, it was also necessary to address the damage done to the green pad over the years by cart traffic.  We repaired the cart path, installed posts to direct carts onto the path in front of the green, and added railroad ties to keep players from driving up on to the side of the green.  The green side was built up, shaped to encourage drainage, and planted with fescue and other grasses for a more rugged look.

 


BUNKER WORK

Our general perspective on bunkers is that they are expensive to maintain and they slow down play.  Therefore, if we are going to have a bunker, it is needs to be cool looking, playable, and strategically relevant.  This perspective has led us to remove several bunkers throughout the course, including a fairway bunker on #12.

Our original plan with the bunkering on the 12th green (pictured below before work began) was to a) rework the front-left bunker to give it more character and make it easier to play from, and b) remove the other three large “saucer” bunkers which we felt were ugly and did not add to the strategic interest of the hole.

CanalShores12-GreenComplexBefore_100915.JPG

Once we started, it got a little more interesting and involved than that…

The first order of business was to remove the left bunker by filling it in with sand, shaping the slope, and laying sod.  Given that we had just the smallest of clues about how to do that, we lucked out when Brian Palmer (Superintendent at Shoreacres) showed up to help, with his sod cutter.

Fortunately for us, the winter was mild enough to give the grass a chance to take root and a year later new players might not even know that a bunker had once been there.

CanalShores12-LeftBunkerSodded_111215.JPG

While we were standing around admiring our handiwork, Brian mentioned that the area that we had stripped behind the green resembled the eden bunker on the famous Eden hole at Shoreacres.  He ambitiously suggested that we turn this green complex into an homage to C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor’s Eden template, which is in turn an homage to the 11th hole at the Old Course at St. Andrews.  Sounded like golf geeky fun to us, so we went for it.

The first step was to rework the front-left Hill bunker to reduce the footprint, give it a gentler upslope for easier escape, and add character.

By late spring, the grass had grown in nicely and had the rugged, aged look we’re after.

Next up was the front right Strath bunker.  This pot bunker needed to be created from scratch, and Axel Ochoa stepped up to the challenge.  Working from a photo of a bunker at Garden City Golf Club, Axel added his own spin and made a beauty.

We let the grass grow up on the top and right to tie the Strath into the tall grass that runs down the entire right side of the hole.  By late spring, Axel’s pot bunker looked like it had always been there.

CanalShores12-StrathBunker_062616.JPG

Tom Tully expanded the mowing of the green out to the edge of the pad, including the creation of a false front that gives the green a sense of tilt that didn’t previously exist.  The improved visual and bunker placement makes the approach both more strategic, and much more interesting.

CanalShores12-Shortright_052516.JPG

While this work was happening on the front bunkers, creation of the Eden bunker behind the green was ongoing.  The original plan was to excavate the bunker and do root trimming all in one day.  We made arrangements to borrow an excavator, had 10 volunteers ready to work, and…it snowed more than a foot.  Plan B – dig it out by hand.

CanalShores12-EdenBunker_111215.JPG

The mild weather over the winter allowed us to chip away at excavating the bunker.  During the course of that process, we decided to give the back edge more of a natural look to contrast with the straight front edge.  As soil was removed, it was dumped behind, shaped and planted with fescue that we removed from the berm.

After the dig out, the root cutting, the shaping and the planting, Tom filled our new Eden bunker in with fresh sand…

CanalShores12-EdenBunkerFill_042616.jpg

…and by Spring, it had grown in beautifully.

CanalShores12-EdenBunkerLeft_062616.JPG

Although the work was grueling at times, it was tremendously satisfying to bring this new configuration to the green complex to life.  We gave a small taste to our players of what is possible at Canal Shores.


FENCE REPLACEMENT

A while back, the Grounds Committee began discussions to address the myriad fence styles that exist around the property.  The lack of a unified look is a missed opportunity to tie the segregated sections of the property together.  We settled on wood round-rail for the boundaries, split rail for internal directional fences, and wood poles with safety netting for containment.

The chain link fence behind 12 green was collapsing and had several weed trees growing up through it.  The City assisted with the tree removal, and our friends at Fenceworks did a great job on the removal and installation.

This new fencing is the perfect complement to the naturalized look we are working to achieve on the course and surrounding native areas.

CanalShores12-NewFence_072816.jpeg


TREE PRESERVATION

The mulberry behind the green does not fit the technical definition of a specimen tree.  By arborist’s standards, it is a low value tree and its trunk was split.  By the current standards of Canal Shores, however, it is a big old tree that looks great in its location.  Therefore, in spite of the advice from every expert to cut the tree down, we decided to save it.

The tree was struggling under its own weight, as it had never been properly maintained.  Our friends at Nels J. Johnson thinned out the crown, and then rodded and banded the trunk to protect it against further splitting.

The tree looks healthy and happy now and will be with us for years to come.  As is the case with many of the non-invasive, lower-value trees on the property, we will let nature take its course and replace them with better species when they die off.  For now, we are making the best of what we have, and in the case of this beautiful tree, I am grateful for the wisdom in that approach.

CanalShores12-MulberryAfterZoom_100916.jpeg


NATIVE AREA INSTALLATION

The first order of business in creating the native area was to cave in the ugly berm that bordered the fence.  Unfortunately, we found out that the berm had been built more from construction debris than soil, so it took considerable effort by our volunteers to shape and recondition that large space.  Lucky for us, we have committed folks involved in this transformation.

With the shaping complete, Steve Neumann and his designer finalized the layout for planting.  Midwest Groundcovers generously supported the project and gave each of our donated dollars 5x its normal spending power on plant materials.

CanalShores12-NativeAreaDesign.png

The Logic Lawn Care crew and our volunteers then sprang into action, fighting through the rain to get the installation done.

 

With the planting and mulching complete, the native area already looks great.  It is exciting to imagine just how gorgeous it will look as it matures and changes with the seasons.

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Although the 12th green makeover became a much larger project than originally intended, the finished product was well worth the effort.  Beyond the result though, the process was a joy.  The community and camaraderie that has developed within this dedicated group of dream chasers is priceless.

Stay tuned for news on our next project.  We are far from finished…

Our wonderful volunteers who pitched in and service providers who discounted and donated:

  • The Golf Geeks Crew – Axel Ochoa, John Creighton, Brian Palmer, Peter Korbakes, Scott Vincent, Brad Germany, Brendan McCarthy, David Horowitz, Scott Laffin, Jim Raymond, Craig LaVasseur, Garrett Chaussard, George Michel, Rick Spurgeon, Max Sternberg, Akbar Mustafa, Todd Quitno, Brian Bossert.
  • The Boys from North Shore Country Day School – CJ, Sam, Dillon, and AJ.
  • Pat Goss, Emily Fletcher, David Inglis, Maureen Palchak and the Northwestern University Athletic Department staff.
  • Lisa Quinn and the First Tee of Greater Chicago staff.
  • Steve Neumann and the team from Logic Lawn Care, and our neighbors from Evanston Terrace.
  • Our Board Members Ray Tobin, Tim Pretzsch, Mike O’Connor and our Superintendent Tom Tully.
  • The fine folks at Turf VenturesFenceworksNels J Johnson, Midwest Groundcovers, and other landscapers who donated soil.
  • MWRD and the City of Evanston Forestry Division.

More Journey Along the Shores posts:


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 14a (The Power of Volunteers)

The contributions that our volunteers make to Canal Shores continues to warm my heart and blow my mind.

In the fall of last year, among various off-season projects, we decided to rework bunkers and clean up around our 12th green.  That little project has become something much cooler, and it is all because of our volunteers.

NSCDSDudes.JPGI will get back to the bunker and green surrounds work.  First, I want to highlight the contributions of four students from North Shore Country Day School.  NSCDS has a senior service requirement.  CJ, Sam, Dillon, and AJ came to us and asked if they could do their service hours at Canal Shores.  It just so happened that we were hoping to add a native plant and habitat area behind the 12th green.  The adjacent sidewalk is heavily trafficked, and we thought the community would appreciate the natural beauty.  I asked The Boys (as they have come to be known) if they wanted to see our idea through – planning to fundraising to implementation – and they agreed.

It has been fun to see them work through the steps of the project.  Thus far, they have:

  • Met with me to learn about the changes to the area from a golf design perspective.
  • Met with Steve Neumann from Logic Lawn Care to work on a design, plant list, and budget for the work.
  • Done outreach to landscaping companies to try and get free top soil to recondition the area.
  • Researched fundraising platforms and provided me with their findings.
  • Met with our Superintendent Tom Tully to work through the details of handling the funds.

Making this progress hasn’t been easy because their various points of contact are busy people.  They are persistently taking action and making it happen though, and that is what I love about our volunteers.

This is the rough design The Boys worked on with Steve and his designer Ana.

CanalShores12-NativeAreaDesign.png

The design includes these native shrubs, flowers, and grasses:

 

The Boys also produced this video about the project.

 

And they have launched a fundraising campaign on IndieGogo.  Click here to check out their page.

I donated to their campaign and I hope you join me.  Not just because their work is helping us to progress in the transformation of Canal Shores, but also because theirs is exactly the kind of volunteerism that we should support.  They are role models for how to make a difference, and I believe that they deserve our recognition and donations.

In my next post, I’ll share more about the bunker and green surrounds work that the golf geeks crew did, but for now, support The Boys.

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More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

 

Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Desert Days – Sand Hollow, Paiute Wolf & Wolf Creek

Las Vegas is a regular destination for me.  My work has taken me there at least fifteen times.  With the exception of one trip that I took to get a lesson from Butch Harmon, golf has not been a part of my Las Vegas experience.  That changed this week when I decided to see what the area had to offer.

After consulting Jon Cavalier and researching Matt Ginella’s recommendations, I settled on Sand Hollow, the Wolf Course at Paiute Resort and Wolf Creek.  What an adventure I had.

A few main thoughts emerged for me as I made my way through the week, with plenty of photo taking and driving time for reflection:

  • All three courses had beautiful and dramatic settings.  When the setting is so stimulating, I question the necessity for an architect to also make the holes and features dramatic.  Doing so strikes me as unnecessary overkill that lacks in a certain amount humility.  Whether it is seaside cliffs, or mountain ridges, it seems better that at certain times the architecture takes a back seat to nature.
  • These courses highlighted the distinction between adventure golf and everyday golf.  Sand Hollow came the closest for me to everyday golf, but all three fall into the adventure golf category.  I enjoy adventure golf, and Sand Hollow, Paiute Wolf and Wolf Creek are all courses that I am grateful to have experienced.  They were visually stunning, fun to play, and full of thrill and challenge.  But they are not the kinds of courses that I could happily play every day for the rest of my life.
  • Before I die, I would love to play a bunkerless course.  This thought came to me as I made my way around Pete Dye’s Paiute Wolf.  As I examined the tee-to-green terrain and green surrounds, the grass bumps, slopes, and hollows that Pete builds are much more interesting to me than his bunkers.  The Wolf Course also had large waste areas that were really cool looking.  Between the ground features and the waste areas I would have been plenty stimulated, and I make the argument that the bunkering was a visual detractor for me.  So, to bring the thought full circle, my dream is for Pete Dye to build a bunkerless course.  His creativity would produce a wild result that would be a blast to play.

On to the photos, and a little course specific commentary…


SAND HOLLOW

SandHollow-SignHaving previously visited Zion National Park with my family, I knew that I was in for a scenic treat as I drove to St. George, UT.  The entire area is magnificent.  Sand Hollow managed to exceed my already high expectations though.  It is a MUST play golf course.

A frost delay was in effect when I arrived, but the starter soon made an exception for me because I was a walking single.  Although the back nine is an elevation changing hike, I highly recommend walking the course if possible.  The amazing terrain is much better experienced on foot.

I was happy to see that Sand Hollow had not been overseeded.  It would have looked goofy.  It was also a unique joy to play the course over semi-frozen ground.  The ball bounced and rolled, and it took all of the creative shot-making in my bag to get the ball on the greens.

The front nine meanders through the valley and eases the player into the round.  Although the holes are understated, the red clay bunkers and rock formations are striking, and they give a hint of what’s to come on the back nine.

(click on images to enlarge) 

Walking to the 10th tee, it becomes clear that the adventure has taken a new and exciting turn.  The par-3 11th, playing as a reverse redan, takes the player to the edge of the dramatic ridge along which the following holes wind.  The views are breathtaking and the golf couldn’t be more thrilling.

I ran into a ranger on the back who lives near the course.  He shared that before the course was built, he used to ride around the site on his ATV.  The ledges on which the 12th – 15th holes are built were existing, allowing the course to be routed beautifully without much earth-moving.

SandHollow12-Above

The pulse quickens on the 12th tee, and doesn’t slow down until heading back toward the clubhouse 4 glorious holes later.

I was content and happy by the time I made it to the final stretch.  As mentioned above, for me Sand Hollow’s brilliance comes from the architecture being an appropriate complement to the land.  At no time did I feel like I was experiencing sensory overload, nor did I feel like the course was in competition for my attention with the setting.  Everything fit together beautifully, and I enjoyed every minute of it.


PAIUTE WOLF

The Wolf Course at Las Vegas Paiute Resort plays entirely in the valley.  Unlike Sand Hollow, which interacted with the mountains and featured significant elevation changes, Paiute Wolf plays over mostly flat ground.  That is not to say that the Wolf is uninteresting though, because Pete Dye added his creative flair to provide plenty of variety, visual intimidation and confusion.

The morning I played was another cold one and the ground remained frozen until well into the back nine.  Paiute Wolf was not quite as fun to play in the extremely firm conditions.  Many of the greens were designed to be approached from the air, and the required shots simply would not hold because of the conditions.  The day I played, the wind was up, but not as much as it normally is in the exposed valley.  I would love to get another crack at the Wolf under normal conditions to get the full experience, wind included.

Paiute Wolf features a wide and wonderful variety of greens – elevations, sizes, shapes, orientations.  They are interesting and cool.  One thing that they are not is severe, either in their internal contouring or canting, and so they are also very puttable.  I can imagine that after a few plays, it would be possible to make a lot of putts.

PaiuteWolf9-ShortRight

#9 – Par 4

I played with an older gentleman who didn’t hit it far, but did hit it consistently straight.  He knew the course and was able to plot his way around effectively.  This speaks to the thoughtfulness that the Dyes infused into the course.  There is strategy in the design, but that strategy is inclusive of all strength levels.  Execution is still required, but if a player can pick a line and hit it on that line, they can navigate the hazards and score.

Paiute Wolf is great fun off the tee, specifically because of the angles created by the size and placement of hazards.  Risk-taking is tempted, and the choice is left in the player’s hands to bite off as much of each hole as they can chew.

PaiuteWolf14-Tee

#14 – Par 4

As was the case at Sand Hollow, I was thoroughly content as I finished up at the Wolf.  The course provided challenge, but only as much as I wanted to take on.  The features were quirky and cool, and the setting was gorgeous.  It wasn’t necessarily about “wow”, but it was a wonderful morning of golf.


WOLF CREEK

Insane.  That is the word that best describes Wolf Creek for me.  It is one of those courses that it is hard to believe someone had the compulsion to build.  For that reason alone – the sheer crazy coolness of it – it is a must play for every golf geek.

I took quite a few photos, and I will let them mostly speak for themselves.  From the first tee, the course is a visual concert of color and texture cranked to 11.  A visit to Wolf Creek is as much about seeing it as playing it.

A few words about the architecture of Wolf Creek though.  It is not strategic.  It is penal.  Hit the shots where you are supposed to, and there are chances to score.  Miss those spots, and you are dead.  There is very little in between.  The conditions were wet and lush the morning I played.  I made good (and a few lucky) choices on line and distance off the tee, executed, and I was rewarded with relatively easy approaches.  Once safely off the tee, the rest of my round was pleasant and not terribly demanding.  It is easy to see though, for those who cannot carry the ball 200+ yards in the air, or who are hitting it crooked, a day at Wolf Creek could be torture.


As I headed home from Las Vegas, I was struck by the variety I encountered on my golf adventure.  I’m not sure that the same variety exists within the city and suburbs.  My willingness to drive a bit was rewarded with an amazing array of color, terrain, architecture and the tired satisfaction of having broadened my golf geek horizons.

What’s my recommendation?  Grab a flight and then hit the road.  There is golf adventure to be had outside of Las Vegas that is well worth the effort, and not to be missed.

 

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf

 


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 13 (4 Course Concept Revisited)

Our Lead Architect David Zinkand has completed his Preliminary Design of the new Canal Shores (below), bringing to life the 4 Course Concept that we have been discussing.  It has certainly come a long way since the idea’s inception.

This design is considered preliminary, rather than final, for several reasons:

  1. We are committed to continuing to gather public and industry expert feedback.  The best ideas will win.
  2. We still need to compile comprehensive details for our Master Plan in order that MWRD, The City of Evanston, the Village of Wilmette, and our Board can consider it for approval.
  3. We leave open the possibility of tweaking details of the design during implementation if there is potential for a better outcome “on the ground”.

Given the innovative nature of the 4 Course Concept, let’s take a moment to address potential points of confusion.

What are we doing to the course?

First, to be clear, we are NOT proposing replacing the existing 18-hole course with a 12-hole course plus practice areas.  What we are proposing is a transformation of the facility into 4 courses totaling 41 holes where players of all ages and skill levels can learn and enjoy the game through playing the game.

Who can use the courses?

The entire facility will be open to the public, at reasonable rates.  However, as is the case now, each of the courses will likely be closed on certain days at certain times for events, leagues, outings, teams, clinics, and/or camps.  By changing from 1 course to 4, we believe that Canal Shores will be better structured to handle these groups while still providing an enjoyable venue for daily players.

What are the 4 courses?

Before getting to the descriptions, Dave’s completed preliminary design.

CanalShores-ZinkandGolfDesign_123115

Note that this design does not include non-golf components, such as paths, pocket parks, and habitat areas.  We will soon have an interactive version of the design with all components displayed together.  For now though, back to the 4 courses – on the map from north to south, they are:

The Jans Course (labeled as “12 Hole Course” above) will occupy the area north of Central.  It is intended to be a 12-hole executive course of par-3s and par-4s, with design inspiration taken from classic Chicagoland golf architecture.  The course is designed for players of moderate to advanced skill, and will be laid out in a clockwise loop.  It also includes inner loops that allow for flexible play.  If space allows, we also intend to have a putting green and hitting bays for warm-up.

JansCourse_Linden-Sheridan.png

JansCourse_Maple-Linden.png

JansCourse_Isabella-Maple.png

JansCourse_Central-Isabella.png

The Kids Links (labeled as “Youth Links & Practice Facility”) will be located between Central and Lincoln.  It will include a 5-hole short course as well as a driving range, putting and chipping greens designed specifically for kids.  This spot has been chosen for the Kids Links because it is self-contained and safely adjacent to the clubhouse.

KidsLinks.png

The Rolling Green putting course (labeled as “Rolling Green”) will be located south of Lincoln, next to Leahy Park.  This 18-hole course will cover 25,000 square feet and include exciting contours and mounds to navigate.  This is not intended to be used as a putting green for practice – it is intended to be played by players of all skill levels and ages.

The Back Lot (labeled as “6 Hole Multi-directional Play & Practice Area”), to be located south of the Rolling Green, will be a 6-hole par-3 course for the public.  It will also serve at times as a highly dynamic and challenging practice course for advanced players.

BackLot-RollingGreen.png

This concept, coupled with Dave’s shaping talent, will result in our community having the most unique and interesting golf facility on the planet.  Players can come each day and, based on their time and preference, choose their own golf adventure.  And even better, that adventure will be different and fun every time – in the very best spirit of the game.

What about playing 18 holes?

From my perspective, the 18-hole format is artificial and in no way fundamental to the enjoyment of the game of golf.  For more on the history of the 18-hole format, visit Why18Holes.com.

However, we understand that there are players who get satisfaction out of completing 18 holes.  Our 4 Course Concept actually allows players several ways that they CAN play 18 holes, if that is their hearts’ desire:

  • They can play the 18-hole Rolling Green Putting Course.
  • They can play the Jans Course full loop, and then replay the inner 6 hole loop (12+6=18).  Dave purposely designed the Jans Course that way.
  • At some times, they will be able to play the Jans Course, and then the Back Lot Short Course (12+6=18).
  • At other times, they can play the Back Lot Short Course three times (6+6+6=18).
  • At other times, they can play the Kids Links with their kids, then the inner 4 hole loop on the Jans Course, and then close it out on the first half of the Rolling Green (5+4+9=18).

You get where I’m headed here.  At the new Canal Shores, the answer to anyone who says “I want to play 18 holes” is, “Okay, here are your options today for playing 18 holes. Go play.”

The beauty of what we are planning is that if someone says, “I want to play (fill in the blank between 3 and 36 holes)”, unlike other facilities, we will have the ability to give them the same response. “Here are your options.  Go play.”

At the end of the day, our mission is to make golf accessible and enjoyable for the greatest number of players possible (especially kids) and we believe that the 4 Course Concept is the best approach to achieving that mission.  We couldn’t be more excited to be able to tell you, “Go play.”


 

BONUS MATERIAL

For those who are interested in the nuts-and-bolts of the design process, Dave gave me permission to share some of his earlier sketches, along with technical details specific to water management that he has been working through with Todd Quitno.

In this version of the Kids Links, we were considering putting the Rolling Green putting course in the same section so that kids would have easy access to it.  Dave also had a practice green across the canal.

DaveZinkand-KidsLinksRollingGreenSketch

After further discussion with our friends from The First Tee and The Golf Practice, and another site visit, Dave moved the Rolling Green out of that section of the property.

DaveZinkand-KidsLinkSketch2

We went around and around trying to figure out how to make the Back Lot work as both a dynamic practice facility and a short course.  I suspect that it will be difficult to comprehend just how great Dave’s design is until it gets built.

We hope that putting the Rolling Green adjacent to the park will both increase its exposure to kids and families and allow us to keep the putting course open at night during the summer.

DaveZinkand-CanalShoresbackLotSketch

We are not allowed to drain water into the canal or use subsurface drainage.  The site is mostly sandy, but it has some trouble spots.  We will be using a combination of grading, dry burns, dry basins, and planted wet basins to manage water.

Dave provided his thoughts on locations to Todd.

DaveZinkand-CanalShoresDrainageSketch

After a site visit with our Superintendent Tom Tully, Todd put together a much more comprehensive drainage layout.

CanalShores-Drainage1

CanalShores-Drainage2

It has been fascinating for me to witness these talented, experienced professionals collaborate and bring this vision to life.  I am convinced that we are in very capable hands – the end product will be highly functional, sustainable, and a joy to play for decades to come.

 


More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 12 (Good Geeky Fun)

Yesterday was one of the best golf days I have ever had.  With a little nudge from some of the members of GolfClubAtlas, Pat Goss and I put together a day for good, geeky golf fun.  It began with an outing for the Honourable Company of Reverse Jans Golfers, and ended with a Gathering of golf enthusiasts to share food, drinks, and the spirit of this great game.

The day epitomized the role that Canal Shores can play in the community and the game itself – it is a place where we can connect with each other and with our childlike joy.


THE OUTING

HCRJGLogo

The Honourable Company of Reverse Jans Golfers is one of golf’s most prestigious societies.  We aren’t ancient, and we’re definitely not royal, but we are dedicated – dedicated to the spirit of fun and camaraderie in the game.

The Company held its annual outing, at which we played a the course backwards – the Reverse Jans.

CanalShores-ReverseJansRouting

A great time was had by all, and Team Zinkand took home the prizes for our team competition.  Thanks to the generosity of RJGers, Canal Shores received a nice donation to its Canal Shores 100 Master Planning Fund.

Many thanks to Seamus Golf, Imperial Hats, and Bluestone restaurant for their support of the event.


THE GATHERING

After the Outing, we were joined in the American Legion Hall upstairs at the Canal Shores clubhouse by other golf enthusiasts from the community and GolfClubAtlas.  We were treated to presentations by our architects David Zinkand and Drew Rogers, and golf historian Dan Moore.

Drew started off by sharing his perspective on why he got involved with the Canal Shores renovation project.  Our thanks to Drew, not only for his support and guidance, but also for his assistance in helping us to win the USGA/ASGCA Site Evaluation planning grant.

Dan Moore followed by sharing his findings from research into the origins of Canal Shores (formerly Peter Jans GC and originally Evanston Community GC).  Dan confirmed that the course was originally opened as a 9-holer in 1919, and later expanded.  He also revealed that the course was laid out by Tom Bendelow, who is credited along with Donald Ross, CB Macdonald, and other pioneers, with the spread of the game in America in the early 1900s.

GGG-DaveZinkandLeft

And finally, Dave Zinkand made a neat presentation taking us through his background, his travels to Britain and back, and how he is drawing on inspirations to create the Jans Course at the new Canal Shores.

To view his presentation slides, click here.

The group at the Gathering made additional donations to the Master Planning Fund, for which we are also very grateful.


ONWARD

We have more news to share, but I will save that for upcoming posts.  Suffice it to say, yesterday was a special day, and it is tremendously inspiring to be a part of this group chasing down the dream to reinvent Canal Shores, and the game of golf in our community.

If you would like to contribute to our Canal Shores 100 Master Planning Fund, you can do so by clicking the button below.  Every dollar helps, and keeps us moving forward.

Onward we go…

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Canal Shores is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit and all donations are tax deductible.


More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 11 (Blue Sky Findings)

Over the summer, the initiative to transform Canal Shores along the lines I outlined in my previous posts (4 Course Concept & Inspiration for the New Canal Shores) gained significant momentum.  That gain is primarily attributable to my good fortune in connecting with Pat Goss.  Pat is the Director of Golf for Northwestern University and Luke Donald’s coach (follow Pat on Twitter at @patgossnugolf).  He is also highly committed to youth golf and teaching the game.  And perhaps best of all, when it comes to golf geekery, Pat is a soul brother.

Several months ago, the Canal Shores Board formed a “Blue Sky” Committee to explore options for the future of the facility.  Pat and I have a similar vision, and so we volunteered to explore how we might go about turning that vision into a reality.  In early September, I presented our findings to the Canal Shores Grounds Committee and members of the Board, with architect Drew Rogers in attendance.  The response was enthusiastic, and we continue to walk down the road toward the New Canal Shores.

I share a recap of the presentation here for two reasons: First, I want to publicly thank Pat, Dave Zinkand, Drew Rogers, and everyone else from The Game of Golf who lent their expertise and support to getting us to this point. Second, I wanted anyone who was not able to attend the meeting to have the opportunity to stay up to date on how this project is developing.


MEETINGS & CONVERSATIONS

Over the past several months, Pat and I have been talking to various parties within The Game of Golf.  We were sharing ideas for the New Canal Shores, and seeking answers to two questions:

  1. Are we crazy for trying to do this?
  2. If we go forward, can we expect support from The Game to get the renovation done and pay for it?

Among those who talked to us were:

  • National and Regional Organizations – United States Golf Association, Chicago District Golf Association, American Society of Golf Course Architects
  • Youth Golf Organizations – First Tee of Greater Chicago, First Tee of Metropolitan New York, The Golf Practice
  • Golf Course Architects – Drew Rogers, David Zinkand, Tim Liddy, Dave Axland, Andy Staples, Mike Benkusky, Todd Quitno
  • Golf Course Builders and Managers – Wadsworth, Lohman, KemperSports
  • Superintendents of Local Clubs – Bryn Mawr, Conway Farms, Old Elm, Onwentsia Club
  • Professionals – Luke Donald, area teaching pros
  • Coaches – David Inglis & Emily Fletcher (NU), Jed Curtis (ETHS)

Their answers to our questions have been:

  1. Yes, you are crazy, in exactly the right kind of way.
  2. ABSOLUTELY!

The response was overwhelmingly positive and offers of support have already started to roll in – expertise, discounted materials and services, funding, etc.  It has been humbling to interact with these good people who love the game of golf so much, and want to see more kids playing it.


GUIDING PRINCIPLES EXPANDED

The Canal Shores Board previously adopted the following Guiding Principles to govern decisions about the direction of the facility.  We are committed to:

  • Providing an outstanding golf facility that focuses on youth and family golf.  To thrive, the golf facility should deliver an experience that is fast, flexible, and fun for all levels of player.
  • Maximizing value to the community by creating a multi-use green space that is designed for effective mixed use, with golf at its core.  Further, all stakeholders enjoy and benefit from exposure to natural beauty, which Canal Shores will embody.
  • Preparing for the long-term by committing to sustainability.  From a land-stewardship perspective, that means restoration of habitat, proactive tree management, and responsible maintenance practices.  From a business perspective, that means designing the golf component in such a way that the fine line between great design that generates revenue and maintenance cost minimization is effectively walked.

I chose to expand on the above principles to specifically address the renovation and its intent.  The intention is for the facility to be significantly more successful, especially with families and kids.  With the right execution, more players should be able to play without diminishing the value of the facility to non-players and neighbors.

The golf component of the facility will be designed, built, and maintained in a such a manner that:

  • Neighbors may adopt and beautify areas along the the property border without major concern of negative impacts from play.
  • There is harmony with the multi-use paths and wildlife habitat enhancement areas.
  • The beauty of the property is drastically enhanced for players, walkers, and neighbors.
  • The increased volume of players will not have a material negative impact to neighbors.
  • Negative impacts to personal safety and neighboring property damage will be minimized.

Do these high standards create a real design and execution challenge?  Absolutely.  But to me, there is no reason to settle for “less than” in the New Canal Shores.


CANAL SHORES IS DIFFERENT

There are those who believe that the best path forward is for Canal Shores to try and be more like other standard 18 hole courses in the area – more like Chick Evans, or Wilmette GC, or Westmoreland CC.  Pat and I obviously do not share this view.

To us, Canal Shores is unlike any other golf course we have ever played, specifically because of the land on which it sits.  It is woven like a thread into the fabric of the community.  It blends natural beauty with man-made architecture and the infrastructure of the community.  It is also segmented by the streets in a way that has created a culture of free-form use by players.  Its openness welcomes mixed-use in a way we don’t often see in golf facilities in America.

These aspects of the character of Canal Shores are what makes it compelling.  It does not need to be more like other courses or clubs.  To truly thrive, we advocate embracing and building upon what makes Canal Shores unique.  It is this uniqueness that has so many people from The Game of Golf lining up to help us.  In this case, they see that different is better.

What does this mean in practice?  It means two things:

  1. We would be upgrading from a single 18-hole golf course, to 4 courses totaling ~40 holes.
  2. We would be adopting a “ski area” approach to the structure of the facility.  Different areas, experiences, and demands for different skill levels.

In this manner, we can be of maximum value to the greatest number of players.


PART OF A MOVEMENT

Although the multi-course concept being considered is unique in Chicagoland, we are certainly not alone in our efforts to reconnect the game of golf to its original spirit.  Around the country, alternative golf projects like those at Sweetens Cove, the Schoolhouse Nine, and others are gaining notoriety. (Click here for a map of Shorties & Alternative courses around the country – each pin includes links to more information.)

Two of my favorite projects are the Andy Staples designed Rockwind Community Links and John Ashworth’s campaign to renovate Goat Hill Park.  These projects serve as examples and inspiration for Canal Shores.

Learn more about Rockwind in this short video (video may take several moments to load):

Learn more about Goat Hill in this short video (video may take several moments to load):


REFINING THE MULTI-COURSE CONCEPT

Architect David Zinkand was kind enough to spend two days visiting Canal Shores and learning about our desires for the facility (click here to learn more about Dave).  He then created for us a Preliminary Rendering of the New Canal Shores free of charge.  This rendering is not meant to represent the final plan in every detail, but it does give a compelling glimpse into the future.
CanalShores-ZinkandRendering_091015

Attendees at the meeting were also sent an Executive Summary of the proposed project that included a statement of our intention to apply for a planning grant from the ASGCA/USGA First Links program.  That application has been submitted, and initial response from the directors of the program has been enthusiastic.  (Click here to view the Executive Summary)


WHY GO IN THIS DIRECTION?

This is a personal question that each person who might be involved in the project must answer for themselves.  People from the Game of Golf have answered that they believe that it can be done, that it will work, and that it is exactly what the game needs.

For me, there are several reasons why I am willing to put my time, energy, and money into transforming Canal Shores:

  • As a dad, I want my boys to have a chance to fall in love with the game the way that I did.
  • As a member of the community, I would love to be a part of leaving a legacy of a special place for golf, outdoor recreation, and natural beauty.
  • As a player, Canal Shores can be a set of 4 world-class golf courses, and I want to play them for years to come.

More Journey Along the Shores posts:

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf